Whether it be baking banana bread, some home DIY or home-schooling the kids, there is no doubt self-Isolation has brought with it plenty of opportunities to beef out our repertoire of skills. But can you say the same about your exercise routine? As the gyms closed, we were all quick to stock up on home exercise equipment and find alternative workouts and other creative ways to stay fit, but over the last few weeks can you honestly say you’ve stuck with it?
If you’re like us and looking for ways to spice up your regime with some alternative workouts, then look no further than these suggestions.
Starting with one of the more obvious choices, Yoga is a great way to mix things up, particularly due to its host of physical and mental benefits.
Muscle Strength & Tone
Attention span & concentration
Calming your nervous system
It’s for this reason that you’ll see a lot of yoga exercises built into our fitness plans, but it’s also something we recommend you consider for your rest days too. Even lighter forms of meditative yoga can help you begin to realise the benefits listed above.
The most popular types of Yoga for you to look up include Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram and Yin/Restorative. We recommend trying a few different styles and alternative workouts to see which one matches your preferences and is best suited for your body and ability, but ask your partner or house mates before you turn the living room into a Bikram studio!
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a style of cardio and strength training that focuses on quick bursts of energy with quick resting periods. It’s great at working out and improving your cardiovascular health, while burning serious energy. It’s usually recommended for weight loss programs due to its ability to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, as well as the ability to continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate, even after the workout is over.
One of the best things about HIIT at home is you can choose 5 or 6 exercises that would usually be boring on their own, but stitched together into a circuit with, bursts of fast and slow periods, they become an incredibly fun and productive workout.
We’ve already shared a heap of our favourite home workouts, but if you want to get really creative here are some fun things to add into the mix.
- A lap around the house or backyard
- Toddler-aided resistance exercises (where you carefully use your kids as resistance weights)
- Stair climbs (inside or outside)
- Couch get ups (single or double legged)
Here are some other tips to squeeze even more out of your workouts:
Don’t overdo it
Work hard, but not too hard. Try to get one workout a week in if you’re just starting out and then build up.
Don’t skip the warmup
At least 5 minutes, HIIT uses multiple muscle groups so warm up each one.
Add more tailored strength training
Combine HIIT with strength training to help with fat loss while still building muscle mass. 5-minute warmup, 15 minutes of focused strength training and finish with 15 minutes of HIIT.
Keep intervals less than 2 minutes
If you’re able to go beyond 2 minutes, you’re not working hard enough.
Mix it up
If you’re doing jumping jacks and burpees day in and day out, your workout might start to feel easier. That’s why its important to mix it up and never do the same workout twice in a row.
Sleep to recharge
As HIIT requires rigorous efforts to complete and works a variety of muscles, sleep is extremely important. Your body rebuilds muscles best when you’re asleep, so you need this time for proper recovery.
Dancing is considered a great cardio workout. But the beauty of dancing for exercise lies in its ability to target a different type of fitness. Where running a treadmill may improve cardiovascular endurance and body composition, dancing can target those two components, as well as muscular endurance and flexibility! And that’s on top of improved balance, agility, coordination, power, reactivity and speed!
To achieve a healthy level of activity while dancing we recommend aiming for exertion levels between a 5 and 7 (where 1 is resting and 10 is the hardest thing you do). To understand if you’re working hard enough try the ‘talk test’. This means you shouldn’t be so out of breath that you can’t speak, but your words should be a little choppy and you should be breathing heavily.
The added bonus of substituting dancing for exercise at home is there’s (probably) no one watching. So, you can bust out your best dress ups, pump up the music and practice your best 80s movie montage moves, all while ticking off some fun and effective exercise!
Plus, after 30 minutes of this you’ll release a ton of feel good hormones like serotonin and endorphins! There are plenty of good reasons to put dancing on your list of alternative workouts.
This one may come as a surprise, but gardening has long been considerate a form of moderate exercise by the American Heart Association! In fact, it’s been proven that gardening can be just as effective as a gym workout, particularly when you incorporate digging, raking or mowing!
Beyond its calorie burning ability, gardening can also help improve dexterity and strength, muscle mass, aerobic endurance, and functional movement. Digging can even help enhance bone density, as one study by the University of Arkansas revealed. Out of 3,310 women aged 50 years old and older, those who gardened or did yard work at least once a week had higher bone density measurements than those who were sedentary, jogged, walked, swam or did aerobics.
Your interest in gardening may have already peaked as a result of lockdown, but if you’ve been putting any of those more difficult choirs off then this might be just the excuse you need to get your hands dirty!
If you’re feeling stressed, or not sleeping well, why not try your hand at some Yoga or dancing? Or if you’re on tight schedule and want to get the most out of your workouts, have a go at HIIT. If you’re looking for something else, gardening could be your next DIY project and exercise plan! Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to find physical activities and alternative workouts that you enjoy and that agree with your body. This helps you implement sustainable lifestyle changes that are also enjoyable.